What to expect from Astros in second half of season

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HOUSTON – The Astros sit at 64-35 entering the second half of the MLB season.

Houston holds a five-game lead over the Seattle Mariners for the top spot in the American League West Division.

With a .646 win percentage, the Astros trail only the Yankees (.653) and Red Sox (.694) for the best record in baseball, with 63 games left on the Astros schedule, which begins Friday with the first of three games against the Angels.

The Astros run differential (+188) is the best in baseball and the team's 312 runs allowed is also the league's best mark. In fact, the Cubs and Yankees allowed the second-fewest runs, 362, in the first half. A fifty-run difference at this point in the season is incredible.

All that said, the Astros now look to the final stretch of the regular season and playoffs to complete the 2018 season.

In addition to leading Seattle by five games, Houston leads Oakland by eight game in the division race. 

The Red Sox lead the Yankees and Astros by 4 1/2 games. With the Rays trailing the Red Sox by 18 games, it's seems safe to say Boston and New York will be in the playoffs, with one of the two AL East teams playing in the wild-card game. The Indians sit atop the AL Central, 7 1/2 games ahead of the Twins.

Houston plays Seattle 13 times in the second half, seven times at home. The division title is in the balance and the baker's dozen set of games will play a huge role in determining who takes home the crown.

Houston also starts the second half off with a slew of interleague games on the road.

The Astros go to Colorado for a short two-game set, visit Los Angeles for a three-game World Series rematch and then go to San Francisco for a short two-game series, all within Houston's first six series of the second half.

Thirteen of the team's first 16 games in the second half are on the road.

The Astros could also look to the trade market in the second half.

Catcher and relief pitching are logical positions to look at when considering trades.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and Rays catcher Wilson Ramos have had their names on the trade block for a while and seem to be the players who could be moved.

The Reds and Mets are teams to look at when considering relief pitching, since both teams are virtually out of the playoff race this season and have relievers that will be hitting free agency this offseason.